As the population ages, everyone is at greater risk for chronic illnesses or in need of specialized supervision. The number of South Carolina residents age 85 and older will increase 101 percent from 2012 to 2032.
South Carolina has 190 nursing home facilities. Many of them do an excellent job of meeting the needs of their residents. However, this is not true of all nursing homes. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 90 percent of nursing homes are inadequately staffed. Because of this, staff members are overworked, tense, and frustrated, which may lead to neglect and abuse. However, studies report that only one in 14 cases are ever reported to the authorities.
You want your loved one to live in a safe and healthy environment. Visiting area nursing homes and observing them personally is essential. However, even those facilities that appear clean and well-run during a visit may have concealed issues such as neglect, abuse, or poor care.
How to Search for Nursing Homes
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offer an online tool called the Nursing Home Compare Five-Star Quality Rating System, to rate nursing homes that are certified by that agency. This online tool rates more than 15,000 nursing homes on a scale of one to five stars (the more stars, the better).
How Does Nursing Home Compare work?
Nursing homes with five-star ratings have above average quality, and homes with 1 star have below average quality. A nursing home rating is rated based on the following categories, each with its own five-star rating:
- Health inspections
- Quality measures.
Trained inspectors conduct unannounced, onsite assessments to determine if the quality of the home measures up to the requirements of Medicaid and Medicare’s requirements. The number and severity of any problems, along with findings from complaint investigations over the past 36 months determine the rating.
CMS bases appropriate staffing levels on two components. The number of registered nurse hours per resident each day and the total staffing hours (including registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, and nurse aid) per resident each day. This measure is adjusted as needed based on the different levels of care needed by the residence. This data is self-reported. However, CMS identifies nursing homes shown to have unreliable data.
This measure deals with a number of function and health status indicators for both long-stay and short-stay residents. It is an indication of how well nursing homes are caring for both the clinical and physical needs of their residents.
The three-star ratings are combined to determine the overall rating.
Using the Rating Tool
People are generally searching for a nursing home within a specific geographical location. To find the nursing homes near you go to the Nursing Home Compare search page. Enter the city name, state, or zip code in the primary search box to locate nursing homes within a range of your choice (from 1 to 200 miles.) If you have the name of a nursing home, you wish to consider, enter that in the second search box. When you click on “search,” the website will take you to a list of nursing homes within your range. You will see the name of the home, its address, phone number, and star ratings.
The nonprofit organization ProPublica also offers a useful research tool called Nursing Home Inspect. Similar to Nursing Home Compare, they allow you to search for nursing home deficiency reports in a particular area. Nursing Home Inspect uses data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Information includes the number and severity of deficiencies, fines, and payment suspensions if any. The deficiencies are from the nursing home’s previous three inspection cycles. Deficiencies are ranked by severity from best (A) to L (most serious.) Special focus facilities are homes with a history of serious quality issues. Nursing Home Inspect also allows you to view complete recent reports.
Contributing Factors to Ratings
Experts recommend that you dig deeply into the reasons behind the rating. Each report contains a great deal of useful information. It may be difficult to find a nursing home with a flawless rating that is in your preferred area and within your budget. Therefore, you may need to prioritize your concerns. If, for example, what if the nursing home in question has a good overall score, but an inadequate health rating?
Using This Information
Rating systems help you assess the general level of care your loved one will receive at a particular nursing home. They can help if you are choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, giving you insight regarding what you should focus on and what questions to ask. They may provide information about the level of care at a nursing home where you or a family member already lives. They may provide useful information to help nursing home staff provide the best possible quality of care.
The rating systems are only a guideline. Unfortunately, neglect and abuse can occur at any nursing home, and choosing a facility with a five-star rating doesn’t rule out the possibility of serious abuses. Ultimately, you must do the research, weigh the options, and choose.
What Your Attorney Can Do for You
Nursing home neglect and abuse are a serious problem. A recent news report stated that about 15 nursing homes in the Charleston area have more health citations than the state average—in some cases, far more. Many nursing home residents are vulnerable targets for neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation. They may be weak or embarrassed and find it difficult to speak up about their mistreatment.
If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, report the facts to the authorities. If necessary, remove the resident from the facility as soon as possible. An experienced, compassionate attorney can protect and defend you or your loved one, as well as obtain compensation for injuries or losses – Contact Hughey Law Firm Lawyers today at (843) 881-8644 to find out how we can help.